Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Meeting the Challenge: Gardening for a Greener Future

The following horticultural luminaries are featured speakers at the 2024 symposium.

Kelly Norris

Kelly Norris
Where Horticulture Meets Ecology: Site-Specific Plantings in Public and Private Places

The ongoing shift toward ecologically driven landscapes has created a new set of questions and challenges for the home gardener and the professional designer. How do we make space for sustaining and sustainable gardens? How do we shift the narrative of landscape design from construction and maintenance to cultivation and stewardship? Join landscape designer, plantsman, and artist Kelly Norris for this vibrant exploration of his recent and future work at the intersection of horticulture and ecology. His presentation will explore various projects, their narratives, plant palettes, and the relative success or progress to date of each project, with a preview of future development.

Kelly Norris is an award-winning horticultural author, landscape designer, plantsman, and artist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Fine Gardening, and Garden Design. His most recent book, New Naturalism: Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden was named one of the Top 10 Books of 2021 by the American Horticultural Society. In his practice, he explores the interaction of people, plants, and place through ecological, site-specific design and art. 

Dr. John M. Dole

Nancy Lawson
A World of Discovery: Gardening for Wildlife Senses

Our gardens are vibrant realms, places where many languages are spoken, sometimes in sensory alphabets we have only just begun to describe. Much has been written about gardening for human senses, but how do plants and animals perceive the world around them and how do they respond? What do we miss when we landscape solely for our own visual appeal but neglect the perceptive experiences of our wild neighbors? Noise, light, and color pollution have many unintended and adverse consequences for the increasingly disrupted lives of the flora and fauna who share our world. Join Nancy Lawson for an insightful and personal exploration into the sensory lives of garden animals and plants.

Nancy Lawson is the author of The Humane Gardener: Nuturing a Backyard Habit for Wildlife, and The Wildscape: Trilling Chipmunks, Beckoning Blooms, Salty Butterflies, and Other Sensory Wonders of Nature. As a consultant, popular speaker, and founder of The Humane Gardener, LLC, she advocates for creative, wild-friendly landscaping methods. She is certified as a Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional and Master Naturalist. Nancy’s books, garden advocacy, and scientific endeavors have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, O Magazine, Entomology Today, and Ecological Entomology.        

Richard Bisgrove

Carol Reese
Native Plants: Facts, Fabrications, and Foibles

Our climate is changing. Are native plants really more likely to succeed? Are they always the better choice for supporting insects? Carol’s program separates fact from fiction and champions all well-behaved plants that provide exceptional sustenance for insects and other wildlife. She suggests that dismissing a plant because of its origin rather than its ecological merits potentially causes more harm than good to our already damaged planet. This thought-provoking program questions the entire concept of “native” and whether trying to freeze the available plant selections to a particular moment in time and space is beneficial or even possible.

Carol Reese retired after 27 years as an Extension Service Horticulture Specialist with the University of Tennessee. She has a bachelor’s degree and all but dissertation (ABD) in Horticulture from Mississippi State University where she co-taught courses in landscape design. She shares knowledge as a writer in a newspaper garden column, the Q & A columnist for Horticulture magazine and for other magazines, while lecturing around the nation on gardening topics. She attributes her most valuable insights to being “raised on a farm by generations of plant nuts.” She has also built a secluded haven for homeless dogs, nurturing them as she tends her  gardens. 

Edwina von Gal

Tony Avent
Garden Zillow: Creating and Finding Comfortable Homes/Habitats for Your Garden Flora 

To be successful in the gardening trade, a plant usually must be attractive to the eye and bullet-proof to the unintentional abuse that most gardeners unfortunately subject their plants to. At Tony Avent’s Juniper Level Botanical garden, they currently grow over 27,000 plant taxa. This feat would not be possible without the acute understanding of plant habitats and plant adaptability. Tony’s presentation will pass much of this knowledge on to you by exploring the complexities of garden microclimates, soils, and habitats, thereby expanding the number and variety of plants you can successfully grow a thousand-fold.  

Tony Avent is a well-known proprietor of Plants Delights Nursery, Inc. in Raleigh, NC. He has a bachelor’s degree from NC State University in Horticulture Science and is a much-requested freelance garden writer and lecturer. In addition, he has appeared on many television programs as a horticultural expert and international plant explorer. Among his numerous awards and commendations are the 2019 Don Shadow Award of Excellence, Southern Nursery Association, and the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award from NC State University College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Register for the 2024 Davidson Horticultural Symposium